Manila: To bridge the so-called “digital divide”, the education department is set to roll out solar-panel equipped desktops and tablets to public schools without electricity.

Undersecretary Alain Del Pascua, of the Department of Education (DepEd), said the government is poised to distribute solar-powered computers to some 6,000 schools across the country that do not have access to electricity this year. “We hope that these computers will help improve their teaching and learning activities despite their remote location,” as he said.

Aside from being an archipelago of thousands of islands separated by water, large areas of the Philippines remain without electricity. This lack of what is considered a basic necessity in most of the world is the norm in far-flung communities.

Lack or the absence of access to electricity not only limits time for public school students in remote communities for study but also denies them opportunities to use learning aids such as desktop and laptop computers as well as tablets. Thus, the term “digital divide”. As a result, pupils from remote areas have competences different from that of learners who have access to electronic support.

According to Del Pascua, this year, the DepEd expects to distribute solar panel-equipped computers to some 6,000 public schools both in elementary and secondary levels in places without electrical supply.

“The innovation in this effort is that the computer package includes a solar panel that will support the provision of electrical energy. We hope that these computers will help improve their teaching and learning activities despite their remote location,” Pascua said.

The computer package includes one laptop and a seven-in-one tablet.

“This is the government’s initiative to promote tech-savviness in rural villages and let them cope with the technological advancement of their counterparts in the urban area,” Pascua added.

According to the DepEd, some 4,000 beneficiaries will be from the main islands of Luzon and Mindanao, while 2,000 Visayas schools will benefit from the move.

Financing the endeavour will be a P1.4 billion (Dh101 million) allocation under the DepEd 2015 Computerisation Programme budget. The procurement is under way through the United Nations Development Program and the Department of Budget and Management-Procurement Service.

The DepEd Computerisation Programme (DCP) entails the allocation of P6 billion under the 2017 General Appropriations Act to procure about 188,000 computers for public elementary and secondary schools nationwide.

The programme envisions computer laboratory packages for public secondary schools, including Senior High School (SHS) and provision of e-classrooms to elementary schools.

Mobile teachers will also be provided with laptops while schools will have ICT classrooms to raise the literacy of learners on new technology.